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PODCAST: What's so bad about low inflation?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:46

Why are investors suddenly fleeing from stocks?

Right now our inflation rate is around 1 percent. But some at the Fed say that's way too low. The hope is to see inflation go up. But why on earth would we want to increase inflation?  

When it comes to wellbeing, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. That’s according to new data from the Social Progress Imperative, an organization which aims to understand how countries are performing on a variety of measures including health, education, technology, and opportunity.

Nasdaq'ed: tech slide continues

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:46

It was a rough week for tech and bio-tech stocks. And in Marketplace's Weekly Wrap segment, Leigh Gallagher, editor of Fortune Magazine, and Sudeep Reddy, from the Wall Street Journal, recap the week's financial news.

This week's market slump was driven in large part by big-name tech companies, and on Thursday, the Nasdaq Composite slumped 3.1 percent, its biggest decline since November 2011. 

 "We're seeing this increasing skittishness, and whether it's related to Candy Crush's IPO or tech stocks this week or JP Morgan today, if you pull really far back, last year the market was pretty boffo. It was up 30 percent," says Gallagher. "And the whole world knows that we're not going to do that again this year."

Was last year's market performance a little too bananas?

"Bananas, boffo, I'll give you another b-word: bubble," says Reddy. "We've spent so much time thinking about bubbles... that we've actually lost sight of some of the more fundamental issues like corporate earnings and economic expectations. And we'd have to see some pretty remarkable economic growth and profit growth to support where the stock market has been the past couple of months."

U.S. Denies Visa To Iran's Controversial U.N. Envoy

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:35

The moves comes after Congress approved legislation aimed at denying entry to Hamid Aboutalebi, who was part of a student group that seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

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4 Strange Sports In America's Past

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:13

If you think beer pong and mud wrestling are odd contests, you should check the history books.

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Alternative indicator gives high scores to Costa Rica

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:03
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 09:50 EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to well-being, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. 

When it comes to well-being, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. That’s according to new data from the Social Progress Imperative, an organization which aims to understand how countries are performing on a variety of measures including health, education, technology and opportunity.

Stephen Keppel, who covers economics at Univision, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain why Costa Rica performs so well. Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

Marketplace Morning Report for Friday, April 11, 2014Interview by David BrancaccioPodcast Title Alternative indicator gives high scores to Costa RicaStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Say cheese... all April long

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:01

Here's an extended look at what's coming up next week:

On Sunday, the final season of "Mad Men" premieres. I had to put on my go-go boots and pour myself a martini for that tidbit.

On Monday, while we all drink heavily at a business meeting we've dressed up and styled our hair for, the Commerce Department is scheduled to report retail sales data for March.

On April 14th, 1939 John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" was first published. The depression era novel went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Speaking of the Pulitzers, Prizewinners are scheduled to be announced on Monday.

Did consumers pay more or less for stuff in March than they did in February? On Tuesday, the Labor Department issues its Consumer Price Index. And it's tax day. An American tradition.

That brings us up to hump day. We'll get numbers on construction of new homes for March. And the Federal Reserve releases its latest Beige Book summary of commentary on current economic conditions.

Wondering why I'm not talking about any hearings on Capitol Hill? It's because Congress is on recess.

Markets are closed for Good Friday.

Television host and comedian Conan O'Brien turns 51.

And since we here at Datebook love cheese, let's end with this deliciousness: April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Start melting.

'I Knew It Wouldn't Be Easy,' Outgoing Health Secretary Sebelius Says

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:52

With Kathleen Sebelius leaving as health secretary, the president is turning to budget chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell to run the agency that oversees the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare.

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Alternative indicator gives high scores to Costa Rica

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:50

When it comes to well-being, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. That’s according to new data from the Social Progress Imperative, an organization which aims to understand how countries are performing on a variety of measures including health, education, technology and opportunity.

Stephen Keppel, who covers economics at Univision, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain why Costa Rica performs so well. Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

Costa Rica tops Latin American countries on Social Progress Index

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:50

When it comes to wellbeing, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. That’s according to new data from the Social Progress Imperative, an organization which aims to understand how countries are performing on a variety of measures including health, education, technology, and opportunity.

Stephen Keppel, who covers economics at Univision, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain why Costa Rica performs so well. Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

Think You Know How To Cook Eggs? Chances Are You're Doing It Wrong

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:44

Food writer Michael Ruhlman has a new cookbook that's an homage to eggs. And where do Americans so often go wrong? Ruhlman says we usually overcook even the simplest dish of scrambled eggs.

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This Jet Lag App Does The Math So You'll Feel Better Faster

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:35

When it comes to resetting your biological clock, calculus can help. Mathematicians say they've found a faster way to adjust to time zone changes, and they've used it to drive a smartphone app.

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Pope Francis Asks Abuse Victims' Forgiveness

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 05:49

In what are being described as his strongest comments so far about the church's sex abuse crisis, the pope also condemned the evil deeds of some priests.

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Optimism, But No Breakthrough In Search For Malaysian Jet

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 05:00

Even as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was saying he's "very confident" that pings from the plane's black boxes have been detected, the man leading the search effort was urging caution.

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VIDEO: Woman Throws Shoe At Hillary Clinton, No Harm Done

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:49

The flying footwear missed the former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential contender. She was giving a speech in Las Vegas. "Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?" Clinton joked.

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When the coal layoffs trickle down

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:40

Coal communities in eastern Kentucky are feeling the effects of a relentless wave of mining layoffs the past few years. Competition from cheap natural gas and high production costs have hurt the mining business here. That, in turn, is hurting Main Street.

Take Whitesburg, Kentucky, population 2,000 give or take. At the Railroad Street Mercantile, owner Kae Fisher surprises visitors with an eclectic mix of merchandise. Homemade jellies, aromatherapy oils, snack chips, and jalapeno eggs fill the shelves. In the back of the store, she’s selling used LP’s and consignment quilts.

“These are from ladies across the county who try to earn a little extra money because a lot of them, their husbands have lost their jobs,” says Fisher.

Fisher and her husband David opened their “corner market” last year, as mining employment in eastern Kentucky plunged. Inauspicious timing, but Fisher believed the downtown needed at least one store. “We’re able to pay the bills,” says Fisher. “But have we got our money back that we’ve invested? Not yet.”

A midday stroll down Main Street, Whitesburg can be a lonely experience. The courthouse is the busiest place in town, but tables at the Courthouse Cafe across the street are fairly empty. On a weekday afternoon co-owner Laura Schuster worked the kitchen by herself. She can’t afford an assistant right now. “Once the layoffs started we immediately knew what would happen, that people would be afraid that they also would lose their jobs and they would cut back anyway they can,” says Schuster. “And one way to cut back is to not eat out. I’d say business is down 50 percent, if not more.”

Whitesburg and other coal towns in the region are also suffering from a steep drop in coal tax revenue. The money goes to counties and was originally intended for an economy beyond coal. In Whitesburg’s Letcher County, coal tax revenue is half what it was just a few years ago.

Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, says over the years coal severance taxes have been diverted for other uses. “Local governments in eastern Kentucky have gradually become dependent on the coal severance as just a general fund source for operations,” says Bailey “For them to pay for police, to do basic road repair. So they’ve had a really hard time because there’s the lack of a tax base outside that as well to generate revenue.”

Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, says the transition to a “low-coal” economy will be “slow, hard and expensive.” He points out the region was poor, even while coal boomed. “So there will be no easy fix.”

Why low inflation can be dangerous

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:36

Right now our inflation rate is around 1 percent. But some at the Fed say that's way too low.

The hope is to see inflation go up. But why on earth would we want to increase inflation?  

"A little bit is good, but not too much. It's like a lot of things in life -- good in moderation," says Jeremy Siegel, a professor of finance at Wharton. "Higher inflation is a bad thing, but mild inflation, statistically has been associated with very good economic times."

Siegel says during times of inflation, the dollar decreases in value. So the $100 you borrowed back in the day was worth more then, than your $100 payment today -- which means less financial burdens for consumers and more cash to spend.

And that's one reason the Fed wants to see inflation go up -- just a little bit. 

"It's not so high as to be hurting a lot of people, but it's at a level which would probably create a lot of jobs," says Gary Thayer, chief macro strategist at Wells Fargo Advisers. Thayer says the benefit of job creation would probably outweigh a slightly higher inflation rate.

Ukraine not on the agenda as IMF gathers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:20

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are set to open their annual spring meetings. It will be a busy weekend for finance ministers and economists who are visiting Washington from all over the world. Dozens of panels and speeches are on the agenda, but none are about Ukraine, a country the IMF has offered billions of dollars.

According to Ken Rogoff, former IMF chief economist, right now, “the geopolitics overrides what the finance ministers and the central bankers think.”

But at a gathering of policymakers from close to 200 countries, it is bound to come up.

“I think it’s going to be talked about behind closed doors,” says Barry Eichengreen, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley.  

Don't break my heart: This week's Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:09

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week's guest is Nitasha Tiku, , co-editor of Valleywag, Silicon Valley's tech gossip rag.

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Molotov Cocktails And Razor Wire: Inside An Occupied Building In Ukraine

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:06

Pro-Russian protesters in the eastern city of Donetsk seized a government building in the middle of town on Sunday. NPR's Ari Shapiro went inside the building and reports on what it was like.

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Tragedy In California: Truck Hits Bus Full Of Students

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:00

At least 10 people died and several dozen were injured when a FedEx truck slammed into a charter bus. The high school students and chaperones were going to visit a Northern California college.

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